Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Death, Resurrection & Beyond - Part II - You are a quickened spirit!


This is Part II in the series on Resurrection. You may read Part I here.

Almost all the studies on the subject of resurrection is exclusively based on I Corinthians 15th chapter. People consider that chapter alone details resurrection. In this post we will not dwell much upon that chapter, because there are other passages on the subject of resurrection.

Ask a typical Christian where his departed grandfather is, and he will tell you that he is with the Lord, in heaven. Ask him when will the resurrection of the dead be, and he will tell you that it will be at the second coming of Jesus Christ, at the end of the world and so on. Please don't ask him whether his grandfather who is already in heaven will come back and lay down his grave so that he can be resurrected again; such questions may embarrass and annoy them.

If you happen to read this post completely, you will be able to say with confidence that your departed grandpa or grandma is with Our Lord, wherever He is.

⑤ "raising from death" and "quickening"

Since most of the online and offline material that we get to read about resurrection (raising from death) are all about bodily resurrection v/s spiritual resurrection, I would like to talk to you about quickening, a topic that is not thoroughly investigated. You are cautioned that this study may vary from your beliefs, your denomination's literature and popular Christian understanding about resurrection.

Very often do we hear the following scripture being read out by preachers, with some emphasizing on the first phrase, whereas some others emphasizing on the second phrase:
1Cor 15:45...The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening[G2227] spirit.
Other than quoting this scripture, we are seldom told about the difference between being raised up from death and being quickened. To the best of my understanding, they do not see much difference between these two acts. It appears to me that there is a difference between these to acts. Please read the following scripture carefully:
Joh 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up[G1453] the dead, and quickeneth[G2227][them ⇐ added by translators]; even so the Son quickeneth[G2227] whom he will.
Read the scripture a few times. Father raises the dead and then quickens, whereas the Son just quickens.

The Greek word translated as "raised up" in this passage is G1453 in Strong's Lexicon has various applications:

G1453 ἐγείρω (egeirō, eg-i'-ro)

Probably akin to the base of G58 (through the idea of collecting one’s faculties); to waken (transitively or intransitively), that is, rouse (literally from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death; or figuratively from obscurity, inactivity, ruins, nonexistence): - awake, lift (up), raise (again, up), rear up, (a-) rise (again, up), stand, take up.

If we analyze the scriptures where this word is used in connection with God raising up anyone from death, we can see that they are almost always about God raising up Jesus Christ from death. (See Act 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30, 37; 26:8; Rom 10:9; 1Co 6:14; 15:15; Gal 1:1; Col 2:12; Heb 11:19; 1Pe 1:21) There are only a couple of verses that are exceptions to this rule, but those are about the capability or willingness of God to raise the dead - Act 26:8 and 2Co 1:9. So, it appears to be sound reasoning to think that the expression "For as the Father raiseth up the dead" applies to Jesus Christ alone.

It also appears that raising someone from dead can happen without quickening. For instance, Lazarus was raised from death, but was not quickened.
Joh 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised[G1453] from the dead.
Similarly, those saints whose bodies were raised after the death of Jesus were not quickened:
Mat 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose[G1453].
While Jesus sent out His disciples on their first missionary journey, the instruction was to raise the dead, not to quicken them:
Mat 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise[G1453] the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give
Please note:
  • raising from the dead is different from quickening.
  • raising from the dead can occur without quickening.
  • quickening can happen without biological death - as we will see below.

⑥ You are a quickened spirit!

I am sure that you, who is reading this post, is a human person who is biologically alive on this side of eternity. Now, I present you a couple of passages that say you are already quickened.

Please note that in the following passages, the Greek word with Strong's # G4806 is a derivative of G2227 (mentioned above):

G4806 συζωοποιέω (suzōopoieō, sood-zo-op-oy-eh'-o)
From G4862 and G2227; to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively): - quicken together with.

G2227 ζωοποιέω (zōopoieō, dzo-op-oy-eh'-o)
From the same as G2226 and G4160; to (re-) vitalize (literally or figuratively): - make alive, give life, quicken.

Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened[G4806] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Let us remind ourselves of the English Grammar we learned in lower (primary) school to realize that the above passage is in past tense. This is not something to occur in the future.

Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened[G4806] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Think of it, you are in the state in which Jesus Christ was, after He was raised from death and quickened by His Father. Though you were not biologically dead, you were deemed dead because of your sins, but, God has already quickened you along with Christ. You are not the wretched, filth of a sinner your religion taught you to be. You are already seated in heavenly places with Christ.

What has quickened you?

If it was the Spirit of God that quickened Jesus, could there be a difference in your case? Though we have read in Joh 5:21 that the Father raised up Jesus from death and quickened Him, Peter tells us it was the Spirit of God which quickened Him.
1Pe 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened[G2227] by the Spirit:
Please remember, there is a raging controversy as to whether the last few words of this verse should be "by the Spirit" or "in the Spirit". The Greek expression used here "τω πνευματι" is translated as "in the Spirit", "by the Spirit" and "with the Spirit". Every theologian stick to his guns, based on their own theological agenda. There is nothing in the text to prove the accuracy of any one rendition over the others. 

If you appreciate that you are quickened even before you are biologically dead, it is the same Spirit that quickened you.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead [shall] also quicken[G2227] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Yes, I am aware that many use this verse to prove biological resurrection. Think of it, you were dead (in sins) and you were buried and raised from death through baptism, you are quickened and are enthroned in heavenly places with Christ; does your body really matter to you?
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth[G2227]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
The same thought is reiterated by Paul:
2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life[G2227]. (though translated as "giveth life", the Greek word is the same as quickens).
We are quickened by the words of Christ, which is the Spirit and life. (Joh 6:63)

⑦ Despite all these glorious promises...

In this section we will attempt to find what happens after your biological death. Let me tell you upfront that immediately upon your biological death you will be united with the Lord, without having to wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ. That sounds controversial, isn't it?

Most of us know that Jesus spoke His words to His first century audience and Paul wrote his epistles to his fellow believers who lived in the first century. Now, place yourself in the shoes of a first century believer and think of the following scenario. You are raised with Christ, quickened and enthroned in heavenly places with Christ, even while you are in your biological bodies. Obviously, you are a ruling king. How will you feel, if you are told: "everything is fine, but you need to wait till the second coming of Jesus to realize all this?"

For someone who lives in the 21st century, becoming a Christian is relatively easy job: join a church, attend their Bible classes and get baptized, probably, surrounded by your parents, family, and friends.

As a first century follower of Christ, what awaits you is rejection by your own parents, family and friends. You will be persecuted by the leaders of the then dominant Jewish religion. You will have to face persecution even from the Roman government. Martyrdom is almost certain, that too in the most cruel fashion, like, peeling of your skin and dipping you in boiling oil. Throwing you into the cages of starving lions cannot be ruled out.

Jesus having warned you about the worst possible consequences of following Him and having seen the kind of persecutions the apostles and disciples have gone through, have you accepted Christ as your Lord and savior, to be rewarded only after the second coming of Jesus, may be 2000 or more years later?

Dear friend, somewhere during the long history of the Christian church, we started ignoring some of the sayings of Christ and his disciples, because they do not line up with our belief systems and creeds. While there are heated debates regarding the timing of the resurrection and the rapture, let us see what Jesus has told you (the first century believer):

Joh 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

The clause "and now is" is there in every standard Bible. As a first century believer in Christ, are you supposed to understand "and now is" as "and 2000+ years later it will be"? (Please note that many translations render the phrase as "and is now here" or "indeed it's here now".) It is your (first century believer) now, and not the now of a 21st century reader. The very same phrase used in John 4:23 makes any attempt to project the scope of "and now is" to any period of time after the first century.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

In Joh 5:25 Jesus is talking about the possibility of a resurrection well before His death and resurrection, leave alone His second coming. (I know that you are thinking of terms like the firstfruits of them that slept and firstborn of the dead.)

Another hard saying, this time from Paul.

Once I had the misfortune  of attending full day Bible study meeting where 4 preachers were at great pains to project a passage into the infinite future. (Needless to say that none in the audience was convinced). Here is the passage:
Php 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Php 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better
(I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. ESV)
Php 1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
In simpler terms, Paul has two options before him and he was in a divided mind as to which one to be preferred:
  1. To be here on earth and to do the needful for the brethren.
  2. Depart from brethren and be with Christ.
Almost every known commentator agrees that the talk is about departing and being with Christ immediately. If Paul believed in an long interim period between his departure and being with Christ, he would not have said the latter is better (to be with Christ; which is far better), instead of spending infinite number of years in grave, awaiting the second coming of Jesus, he could as well labored for his fellow believers, which he terms as needful.

Consider this: It's around 11 PM, you are very sleepy, and you need to be at your office early in the morning as your employer is planning to felicitate you for your achievements. But, your neighbor rushes in, saying that his kid is very sick and you need to accompany them to the nearby hospital. Will you say your neighbor: no, I can't come with you because is a felicitation ceremony tomorrow morning? I hope you won't. We always do the needful thing first, rewards can always wait. Here we are talking about a reward that has to be obtained in a few hours time. If the reward is to be obtained in some unknown future, won't you be doing the needful, instead of concerning yourself about the rewards or felicitation?

The point is: Paul believed in being with Christ, immediately on departing from here.

The very same thought is further developed in 2nd Corinthians 5. Please do read 2Cor 5:1-10. Let us examine a couple of verses from the passage.
2Co 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2Co 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
There is hardly any reason to think that the groaning and earnest desire are for something to be obtained in an infinite future.

2Co 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
Conversely, while we are absent from the body, we should be at home with the Lord! The passage does not sound like envisaging a long (or even short) gap between being absent from the body and being present with the Lord. There is no scope for spiritualizing as well.

Greek manuscripts have no commas and punctuation! and the Bible is not written in English!

It is a well known fact that Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible have no punctuation. In fact, in Hebrew language they use what is called as "end forms" of letters to indicate end of a word, as the text is written without any space between words. Greek text has spaces between words, but there are no commas or full-stops. But, unfortunately, the teachings of certain Christian groups work only if the non-existent comma is present in the following verse: (Don't worry about the Greek text, it is followed by the English translation.)

Luk 23:43 και ειπεν αυτω ο ιησους αμην λεγω σοι σημερον μετ εμου εση εν τω παραδεισω 

The context is Jesus' replying to "the good thief " regarding his request to remember him while Jesus comes in His kingdom.

The above text is translated in the King James bible as:

Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

This verse obviously means that the thief would be with Jesus on the very same day of his death. But, some scholars and theologians find this position unacceptable. How can a thief who has not repented and was unbaptized be in paradise with Jesus? they ask. So, they want the comma after "thee" to be removed and placed it after "to day". They will even tell you the story of a man who escaped the noose because of a misplaced comma (hang him not leave him v/s hang him not, leave him) - ignoring the fact that the Bible was not written in English.

[WRONG] Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee To day, shalt thou be with me in paradise.

The meaning they want to obtain is: I am telling you today that you will be in paradise some day. (Please note that the expression "shalt thou be with me in paradise" sounds like a question, rather than a statement.)

Most of the Bible translations have been carried out by committees consisting of many scholars; in some cases above 50 or even 100 scholars. And, we have many English translations. Why none of them have rendered the verse with comma after the word today? Here are some of the examples. (please note the position of the comma).
(ASV) And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.
(Darby) And Jesus said to him, Verily I say to thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
(DRB) And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.
(EMTV) And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
(ERV) Then Jesus said to him, "I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise."
(ESV) And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
(ISV) Jesus told him, "I tell you with certainty, today you will be with me in Paradise."
(LITV) And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you will be with Me in Paradise.
(Murdock) Jesus said to him: Verily I say to you, That this day thou shalt be with me in paradise.
(RV) And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.
(Webster) And Jesus said to him, Verily I say to thee, This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
(WNT) "I tell you in solemn truth," replied Jesus, "that this very day you shall be with me in Paradise."
(YLT) and Jesus said to him, `Verily I say to thee, To-day with me thou shalt be in the paradise.'
Frankly, my friend, those who claim that Jesus was offering the thief that some day he will be in paradise some day, are making Jesus into a crook and a deceiver.

Whether the thief repented at the last moment or not, Jesus' offer was that they will be together in paradise on the same day of their death. (If their concern is about the thief reaching paradise before Jesus, Jesus died before the thief. Joh 19:32, 33). They also presume that paradise is the same as heaven, based on:
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
It is not stated that the paradise (garden) is in heaven. I live in Bangalore and I have a garden 600 kilometers away. It is just an assumption that paradise is in heaven. There is nothing to substantiate the claim.

Conclusions for this post.

  1. Quickening is different from resurrection of the dead or being raised from death.
  2. One can be raised from death without being quickened.
  3. In order to be quickened, it is not essential that one has to experience biological death.
  4. As a believer in Christ, you are already a quickened spirit.
  5. Once you depart from your body, you are immediately in the presence of the Lord - without having to wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
  6. Scholars twist many scriptures to match their creeds.
If it be the will of God, I hope to present you a walk through of 1 Corinthians 15 in the next post in this series. Your feedback is welcome.

In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

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